Southwest Refugees Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey are Making a Statement

Yesterday we told you about Leisha Hailey and her girlfriend getting kicked off a Southwest flight for kissing. At the time, partially because it said so in The L.A. Times (“Hailey and fashion designer Nina Garduno have been a couple since 2006″) and also because one of our editors was interviewing Cam when this whole thing first showed up on twitter, we thought the “girlfriend” was Nina Garduno. But it turns out we were wrong about it being Nina which must mean that Camila and Leisha didn’t tweet as it happened but rather tweeted several hours/days after their flight from El Paso to Los Angeles.

Now that it’s out there, I do vaguely recall being told that Nina and Clea were old news and Cam and Leisha were new news, but I must have filed that in the recesses of my brain which contain information such as “how to spell Pieszecki.”

We apologize for the mix-up. Hopefully this misinformation did not cause any of you to die in a fire. It was Leisha and Cam on the plane. If it helps, the bigger bananahead in this situation is us, obviously.

The reason we’re writing this is because today Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey released a statement to the press about yesterday’s incident using Shane’s least favorite word, “we.” Here that is:

Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey statement

We have always promoted tolerance, openness and equality both as a band and as individuals. We both come from loving homes where our parents not only love and accept us, but are also proud of who we are. We believe everyone has the right to live openly in this society as equals. In no way were our actions on Southwest Airlines excessive, inappropriate or vulgar.

We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss. We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple. We were on the airplane less than 5 minutes when all was said and done. We take full responsibility for getting verbally upset with the flight attendant after being told it was a “family airline.” We were never told the reason the flight attendant approached us, we were only scolded that we “needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline.”

No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud. You can’t whisper hate. We ask this airline to teach their employees to not discriminate against any couple, ever, regardless of their own beliefs. We want to live in a society where if your loved one leans over to give you an innocent kiss on an airplane it’s not labeled as “excessive or not family oriented” by a corporation and it’s employees.

We find it very disturbing that the same airline who lauds itself as being LGBT friendly has twisted an upsetting incident that happened into our behavior being “too excessive.” The above is not an apology and we are in the process of filing a formal complaint with the airline. We hope that when all is said and done a greater tolerance without prejudice will evolve.

It’s worth mentioning that this incident officially outed the two bandmates as a couple, which is something in and of itself. As far as I know, Cam has stayed pretty tight-lipped about her sexuality and relationships throughout the band’s terrific rise to fame and stardom. (Correct me if I’m wrong — despite being UHH’s number one fan for about two years I haven’t been keeping up as well lately.) It’s nice to see that when controversy arrives, they put activism before privacy. I hope that inspires other stars to do the same.

In conclusion, I’d like to quote my girlfriend who said “whoever [the flight attendant who kicked them off] was, she picked the wrong lesbian to throw off an airplane” and point out that anyone who can say no to this face is f*cked in the head:

 

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1762 articles for us.

38 Comments

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    Remember when they were first together as a band and everyone kept asking if they were a couple? Yeah, at least now that will stop.

    That flight attendant sounds like an asshole. I’m inclined to believe Leisha and Cam weren’t making out or doing anything excessive. I don’t know them personally, obvs, but from what I’ve seen, they seem to have enough sense and class to not do that. That letter seems rational yet stern.

    I feel Southwest is in a difficult PR position though. It’s one person’s word against another and they are trying to do the thing that makes them least liable, piss off the least amount of people and look least at fault as a company.

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      Southwest is in a difficult position overall, and personally I feel like they are, as a whole, being unfairly dissed too soon. No company as large as Southwest is going to fire an employee or make a full statement either way without an investigation and at least hearing both sides of the story from as neutral a party as they can find, not simply the from the side with the loudest voice behind it.

      That said, that flight attendant was definitely in the wrong and Leisha and Cam’s statement is perfectly levelheaded and is definitely going to get Southwest to work with them more than they likely would if they were still calling for a boycott out of in the moment (though imo, totally called for) anger.

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        I agree. One employee does not represent Southwest as a whole and it wouldn’t be fair to automatically fire someone over something that has been alleged but not substantiated.

        I just read someone claim to have been sitting across the aisle from them and claimed they were making out and were kicked out for being loud and profane and were specifically told any couple, hetero or not, would not be allowed to kiss the way they were. The person claimed the girls were late and were called over the loud speaker to the plane and then the plane got delayed on the tarmac and they were already pissed off. Who knows. I saw someone else write that they saw the girls get kicked off the plane, but didn’t see any objectionable behavior. Leisha and Cam say it was a peck and they were scolded about a “family airline.” Someone got it wrong or is lying. Southwest has no way of knowing.

        I don’t think boycotts work that well. A formal complaint and a levelheaded response is Leisha and Cam’s best recourse. At the very least, I hope airlines pay attention and train their employees that homophobia (which is debatable in this situation) is not allowed.

        I wonder if there’s any video or audio of the incident. I doubt it, but still…

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      word sista(s) (magiclovemuffin et al). southwest is indeed in a very, very awkward position. despite the repercussions of this situation, i think a controversy in times like these is very welcome. they did pick the wrong lesbian to throw off a plane…

      …oh shit guys, new film title. LEZZIES ON A PLANE.

      anyway.

      without further ado, i really hope this inspires more corporations to be a little more intensive on the cultural/lifestyle/sexual identity/xyz sensitivity training.

      …by the way did anyone notice in southwest’s statement that they referred to their actions as being “based solely on behavior not GENDER”. Sorry, what… gender? GENDER? I rest my case. Southwest may be lgbt sponsored, but not lgbt trained, yo.

      not dead in a fire,

      Dee-dee

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    I can not believe this is the right in the twenty-first century, human beings, we must educate ourselves and know that displays of affection are free, and
    love is a beautiful feeling it should not be hidden …
    twitter accounts of the girls are L WORD
    (Tina)Laurel Holloman @nalamommy
    (Alice)Leisha Hailey @Leisha_Hailey
    (Shane) kate moennig @katemoennig
    (Jenny) Mia Kirshner, ILH @MiaK_iLIVEhere
    (Jodi) Marlee Matlin @MarleeMatlin
    (Carmen) Sarah Shahi @onlysarahshahi
    (molly) clementine ford @clementinesford

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    They could sue for big bucks if they wanted. The flight attendant should be in a lot of trouble, if not suspended at least. And if they don’t offer Leisha and Cam mega free flights, the airline will be in such deep shit, their advertising budget will have to go into overdrive not to lose too much business.

    OK, I can’t resist: Clea and Cam were a couple?! Well, well…hope the break up didn’t overlap with Clea and Ellen.

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    Were the couple being too affectionate in public? Would a straight couple have received a reproach had it been them sitting in the same seats? Why do some of us get so uncomfortable when it comes to the public display of affection of same sex relationships? And should Ms Hailey have bitten the bullet and piped down or was she right to insist that she be allowed to be free to express her affection for her girlfriend even in a closed container like a plane as opposed to a park?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/09/singer-actress-leisha-hailey-kicked-off-southwest-for-making-out-with-her-girlfriend/

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    There I was getting all huffy over the injustice etc then I was like wait WHAT? Liesha & Cam???? At least I wasn’t the only one out of that loop.
    Anywho shame on that flight attendant, gawd.

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    i will NEVER fly southwest, even if they apologize. their hesitancy speaks volumes. also, glaad is being awfully calm about something that were it any other airline than the one they endorse (and probably get a discount on travel for doing so) they would be raising the roof. for shame.

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    I don’t agree at all with the comments that Southwest is an an awkward position because it’s an employee’s word v. a customer.

    They don’t have to fire the employee to make a point. When a same-sex couple were approached an usher at a Tulsa Driller’s baseball game and reprimanded for kissing the club responded apologizing, adding sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policies including for hiring, joining the local gay-friendly business alliance, sponsoring Pride and asking the Equality Center to provide sensitivity training for their staff. (http://www.okeq.org/2011/05/26/oklahomans-for-equality-applauds-policy-change-at-tulsa-drillers-stadium/)

    This is the right way to respond. Southwest could have made the statement that the couple were kicked off for their behavior in response to the reprimand and while they ask that clients remain calm in case of such disputes, they recognize that the behavior was an emotional response to an action their employee should never have taken and the ultimate responsibility lies with the airline. They could then announce training for all their employees on LGBT sensitivity and what the exact Southwest Guidelines are for public displays of affection between ALL couples.

    I am so jet lagged right now, I hope that mess of words forms something comprehensible though I can tell it’s not at all as clear as I’d like it to be. :/

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